Have your say on the future of fertility services - it's not a foregone conclusion
Your voice counts in the decision around the future of fertility services in Cambridgeshire.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group(CCG), our local health commissioner, has just launched a consultation on a proposal to stop routinely commissioning most specialist fertility services.
At Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Healthwatch Peterborough, we want you to share your opinions about this proposed change with the CCG to help them make their decision. Please tell us too as we will be formally responding to the consultation after we have listened to what you have to say.
It's easy to be cynical about consultations and believe that you won't be listened to, we hear this a lot. But we know from our own experience that your voice can and does influence decision making. Last autumn, Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG were undertaking a similar consultation about the future of their local fertility services.
Our colleagues at Healthwatch Suffolk supported local people to share their opinions and challenged their CCG about the approach to evaluating the impact of the proposal. As a result, the CCG did not make the proposed changes to their policy. You can read more about this here.
Our CCG's proposal is to stop paying for in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF) treatments, other than for patients undergoing cancer treatment and men who have a chronic viral infection.
The National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on fertility treatments recommends that women aged under 40 years receive three full cycles of IVF, and women aged 40-42 receive one cycle. You can read the full guidance here.
Specialist fertility services became available on the NHS locally in September 2005. In July 2016, the CCG Governing Body took the decision to reduce the number of cycles of IVF available from three to one.
The CCG has made an argument for further reducing the services based on the difficult financial position they are in at the moment.
Dr Gary Howsam, Clinical Chair and Chief Clinical Officer, said: “The CCG has to make some very difficult decisions about how to allocate our budget.
"It is a fixed budget and yet we have a growing demand for all types of healthcare services, as well as a significant financial deficit to clear. We are now in the position that we have to evaluate every service we commission.
“Specialist fertility services are expensive treatments and last year we spent over £1million on them. The CCG has made the difficult decision that when looking at the prioritisation of funds, specialist fertility treatments is an area that we should review.
Have your say
The consultation runs until the 31st July. You can feedback your comments to the CCG by filling in an online survey, writing to them, emailing them or phoning them.
All public meetings have been postponed due to the announcement of the general election. The meetings will be rescheduled for a later date.
If you feel strongly about the future of these services, either because you think the idea of reducing the funding for them is a good idea or a bad idea, please share your opinions with us as well.
We will be formally responding to this consultation and will use what we hear from local people to help us do this. Our formal response will be published as part of the consultation responses by the CCG and this will be seen by the senior leaders when they make their decision.
We will support the outcome of the consultation, whatever the decision, if we have evidence that local people, particularly affected groups, have had a clear and fair chance to respond. Our role is to make sure that your opinions are fully considered.
- Fertility Network - a national charity for anyone who has ever experienced fertility problems
- Bourn Hall Clinic - main provider of specialist fertility services in Cambridgeshire